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CNN Exclusive: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Breaks Silence on Breach of Trust Between Social Network and Users; President Trump Defends His "Congrats" To Putin; CNN: Senior White House Staff Signed Nondisclosure Agreements at President Trump's Request. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 21, 2018 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:03] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight we have an exclusive interview. Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking out for the first time with his company under fire, and the uncomfortable intersection of big business and political controversy.

Suddenly the place where hundreds of millions of people every day share moments of their lives finds itself in a sharing moment, a painful one, the exclusive in a moment. But first, CNN's Drew Griffin sets the stage.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The reason Facebook is under fire is the ease with which a researcher was able to use Facebook to harvest the personal information of tens of millions of Americans, then transfer all that personal information to a data analytics company that would eventually work for Donald Trump's campaign. That firm, Cambridge Analytica, denies any of its work on the 2016 election used the Facebook data to target voters. But Christopher Wylie, the former U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica employee-turned whistle-blower says that the core of the company's activities was the access Facebook provided.

CHRISTOPHER WYLIE, FORMER CONTRACTOR WITH CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA: So we went from no data to, you know, harvesting all of this data off of Facebook and then combining it with all this -- you know, the consumer data sets and voter data sets. So, you know, we had sort of Steve Bannon and a billionaire breathing down our necks trying to go -- you know, where's the data? Where's the algorithms? Where's our information weapons? And that's where Kogan came along, Aleksandr Kogan, the professor at Cambridge.

GRIFFIN: Aleksandr Kogan is the Cambridge University Researcher who in 2014 developed an app, a Facebook personality test called, "This is your Digital Life." 270,000 people voluntarily took the personality test. But what no one who took the test knew is that Kogan's app opened the door to all their personal information and to all of those voluntary Facebook responders' friends and their friends and so on. Tens of millions of people. Facebook says Kogan misled them, that he was supposed to only use the data for research. Instead, he collected it and sold it. But Kogan doesn't believe he did anything wrong.

ALEKSANDR KOGAN, DATA MINING RESEARCHER: Because the reality is that our app wasn't special. It was completely commonplace. There are thousands if not tens of thousands of apps of doing the exact same thing.

GRIFFIN: Now the attorneys general of at least three states are demanding answers. Congress demanding Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify, even government officials in the U.K. want executives from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to explain how a research app led to the exploitation of the personal data of millions. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Again, Mark Zuckerberg sat down exclusively this evening with CNN's Laurie Segall.


LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: I want to start with just a basic question, Mark. What happened? What went wrong?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: So this was a major breach of trust, and I'm really sorry that this happened. You know, we have a basic responsibility to protect people's data. And if we can't do that, then we don't deserve to have the opportunity to serve people. So our responsibility now is to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

And there are a few basic things that I think we need to do to ensure that. One is making sure that developers like Aleksandr Kogan, who got access to a lot of information and then improperly used it, just don't get access to as much information going forward. So we are doing a set of things to restrict the amount of access that developers can get going forward. But the other is we need to make sure there aren't any other Cambridge Analyticas out there, right, or folk who's have improperly accessed data.

So we're going to go now and investigate every app that has access to a large amount of information from before we locked down our platform. And if we detect any suspicious activity, we're going to do a full forensic audit.

SEGALL: Facebook has asked us to share our data, to share our lives on its platform and wanted us to be transparent. And people don't feel like they've received that same amount of transparency. They're wondering what's happening to their data. Can they trust Facebook?

ZUCKERBERG: Yes. So one of the most important thing is that I think we need to do here is make sure that we tell everyone whose data was affected by one of these rogue apps, right? And we're going to do that. We're going to build a tool where anyone can go and see if their data was a part of this.

SEGALL: So the 50 million people that were impacted, they will be able to tell if they were impacted by this?

ZUCKERBERG: Yes. We're going to be even conservative on that. So we may not have all of the data in our system today. So anyone whose data might have been affected by this, we're going to make sure that we tell. And going forward when we identify apps that are similarly doing sketchy things, we're going to make sure that we tell people then too, right? That's definitely something that looking back on this, you know, I regret that we didn't do at the time. And I think we got that wrong. And we're committed to getting that right going forward.

[21:05:11] SEGALL: I want to ask about that because when this came to light, you guys knew this a long time ago, that this data was out there. Why didn't you tell users? Don't you think users have the right to know that their data is being used for different purposes?

ZUCKERBERG: So yes. And let me tell you what actions we took. So in 2015, some journalists from the Guardian told us that they had seen or had some evidence that data that this app developer, Aleksandr Kogan, who built this personality quiz app and a bunch of people used it and shared data with it, had sold that data to Cambridge Analytica and a few other firms. And when we heard that -- and that's against the policies, you can't share data in a way that people don't know or don't consent to. We immediately banned Kogan's app.

And, further, we made it so that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica and the other folks with whom we shared the data -- we asked for a formal certification that they had none of the data from anyone in the Facebook community, that they deleted it if they had it, and that they weren't using it. And they all provided that certification. So as far as we understood around the time of that episode, there was no data out there.

SEGALL: So why didn't Facebook follow up? You know, you say you certified it. I think why wasn't there more of a follow-up? Why wasn't there an audit then? Why does it take a big media report to get that proactive approach?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, I don't know about you, but I was -- I'm used to when people legally certify that they're going to do something, that they do it. But I think that this was clearly a mistake in retrospect.

SEGALL: Was it putting too much trust in developer?

ZUCKERBERG: I think it did. And that's why we need to make sure that we don't make that mistake ever again, which is why one of the things that I announced today is that we're going to do a full investigation into every app that had access to a large amount of data from around this time, before we locked down the platform. And we're now not just going to take people's word for it when they give us a legal certification, but if we see anything suspicious, which I think there probably were signs in this case that we could have looked into, we're going to do a full forensic audit.

SEGALL: How do you know there aren't hundreds more companies like Cambridge Analytica that are also keeping data that violates Facebook's policies?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, I think the question here is are our app developers, who people have given access to their data, are they doing something that people don't want? Are they selling the data in a way that people don't want, or are they giving it to someone that they don't have authorization to do? And this is something that I think we now need to go figure out, right? So for all these apps --

SEGALL: That's got to be -- I got to say, that's got to be a really challenging ordeal. How do you actually do that? Because you talk about it being years ago, and then you guys have made it a bit stricter for that kind of information to be shared. But backtracking on it, it's got to be difficult to find out where that data has gone and what other companies have shady access.

ZUCKERBERG: Yes. I mean, as you say, the good news here is we already changed the platform policies in 2014. But before that, we know what the apps were that had access to data. We know how much -- how many people were using those services, and we can look at the patterns of their data requests. And based on that, we think we'll have a pretty clear sense of whether anyone was doing anything abnormal, and we'll be able to do a full audit of anyone who is questionable.

SEGALL: Do you have any scale or any scope of what you expect to find, anything in the scope of what happened with Cambridge Analytica where you had 50 million users?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, it's hard to know what we'll find. But we're going to review thousands of apps. So this is going to be an intensive process, but this is important. I mean this is something that in rot retrospect we clearly should have done up front with Cambridge Analytica. We should not have trusted the certification that they gave us, and we're not going to make that mistake again. I mean, this is our responsibility to our community is to make sure that we secure the data.


COOPER: We're going to get Part 2 of Laurie Segall's interview in just a second. Before we do, I want to bring in Laurie, also CNN Senior Media Correspondent, and host for CNN's Reliable Sources, Brian Stelter with us, as well as the New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg, who broke the story on Cambridge Analytica.

Laurie, I mean, what's your sense of how serious Mark Zuckerberg is taking this, how concerned he is about the fallout for Facebook, not just for its users but also obviously its reputation in Washington and on wall street?

SEGALL: I mean I think this is a really big deal. I'll tell you something, Anderson, he doesn't like to do press. He doesn't like to even go on camera. He even said as we were sitting there, this is serious. I don't even like to do this. He knows he has to. This is a huge moment for Facebook.

[21:10:09] I've been covering this company for nearly a decade, and when you look at what's happened and you look at all the issues they've faced that you talked about in your show over the last years, you know, I think this is a moment of crisis, and people really want to know if they can trust the company. And I think the general consensus not just in America but all around the world. Can Facebook be trusted with your data? What's happening? Is the platform being weaponized by foreign actors, and are they taking it seriously enough?

You know, they've told me -- Mark told me today they're putting many, many resources into this. They're taking it incredibly seriously. But it's interesting because one thing you didn't see is he said, you know, we're really getting in front of it. And I said to him, but we're sitting right here and we're talking about it.

You know, so how do you guys continue to take -- how do you take a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive approach because I think a lot of us are pretty sick of seeing, you know, Russian actors are influencing folks on Facebook or, you know, you had these bogus social media profiles, and then we see the after the fact blog post. I think now the pressure is on for them to get in front of this because it's going to impact not just their users but also their business bottom line at this point.

COOPER: Matthew, do you really believe that Facebook is getting in front of this?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You know, I'm going to take them at their word. One thing I did notice is that throughout Mark Zuckerberg's comments, throughout kind of Facebook's public reaction to this has been this kind of, we were deceived. These developers, they lied to us. They didn't tell us the truth that we're somehow the victims here too.

And I think there are facts that are unimpeachable here, which is that Facebook knew about this in December 2015. Facebook then went out, and as they told us, they thought the most efficient use of their resources was to quietly try and make sure all the data was deleted. They didn't inform anyone. They didn't tell anyone.

And, you know, sitting some distance from that, that looks like, well, we don't want to tell any users because we don't want people to know about it. We just wanted to quietly get rid of it. I think that's something Facebook really needs to kind of grapple with, that, you know, you've got a company here that does not like to operate publicly -- to publicly acknowledge that there are problems here. And if you're not willing to publicly acknowledge that maybe this wasn't a good way to handle things, if you're looking like these app developers lied to us, it does raise yes about what your future conduct is going to be.

COOPER: Brian, I mean -- you know, Matt raises a great point, that they knew about this a long time ago and basically they were taking measures but they weren't informing anybody.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the argument from Facebook today is, look, we're confronting the problems of the past. We have these loose data policies in the past that are still haunting our company today, and we're reckoning with that now. I think, however, this entire story and the attention around it, it's shining a bright light on what is usually a dark corner of the web about our privacy, our data, how Facebook really uses the information we share. And that's an issue today and tomorrow and down the line. I think a lot of users wonder, OK, this happened a few years ago.

What's happening today on Facebook? Am I really safe and protected because all I've heard in the past 18 months, if I'm an ordinary Facebook user, is that fake news stories polluted my time line before Election Day, and then it turns out there were Russian ads as well. And now I'm hearing my data might have been exploited by campaigns. It just makes you wonder about the future, and I think Zuckerberg does address that in the interview, but he's also looking back trying to say these old policies haunted us.

COOPER: We want to get a quick break in. We're going to have Part Two of Mark Zuckerberg's interview.

And later President Trump and the case for making nice to Vladimir Putin, raising eyebrows once again on that, details ahead.


[21:17:15] COOPER: Before the break, you heard Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg try to explain how 50 million people's data was breached by Cambridge Analytica and what the company is doing to try to make it right.

There's also the larger question about what this incident reveals about a company that after all is built on selling ads albeit with permission based on what people like, dislike, and share online. We'll talk more about that shortly. Here's part two of Laurie Segall's exclusive interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


ZUCKERBERG: If you told me in 2004 when I was getting started with Facebook that a big part of my responsibility today would be to help protect the integrity of elections against interference by other governments, you know, I wouldn't have really believed that was going to be something that I would have to work on 14 years later.

SEGALL: I'm going to challenge you --

ZUCKERBERG: But we're here now. I want to make sure we do a good job at it.

SEGALL: Have you done a good enough job yet?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, I think we will see. But, you know, I think what's clear is that in 2016, we were not as on top of a number of issues as we should have, whether it was Russian interference or fake news. But what we have seen since then is, you know, a number of months later there was a major french election, and there we deployed some A.I. tools that did a much better job of identifying Russian bots and basically Russian potential interference and weeding that out of the platform ahead of the election. And we were much happier with how that went.

In 2017, last year, during a special election in the Senate seat in Alabama, we deployed some new A.I. tools that we built to detect fake accounts that were trying to spread false news, and we found a lot of different accounts coming from Macedonia.

So I think the reality here is that this isn't rocket science, right? And there's a lot of hard work that we need to do to make it harder for nation states like Russia to do election interference, to make it so that trolls and other folks can't spread fake news. But we can get in front of this, and we have a responsibility to do this not only for the 2018 midterms in the U.S., which are going to be a huge deal this year, and that's just a huge focus of us. But there's a big election in India this year. There's a big election in Brazil. There are big elections around the world, and you can bet that we are really committed to doing everything that we need to, to make sure that the integrity of those elections on Facebook is secured.

SEGALL: I can hear the commitment. But since I got you here, do you think that bad actors are using Facebook at this moment to meddle with the U.S. midterm elections?

ZUCKERBERG: Um, I'm sure someone's trying, right? I'm sure there's, you know, V. two, version two of whatever the Russian effort was in 2016. I'm sure they're working on that, and there are going to be some new tactics that we make sure we observe and get in front of them.

[21:20:04] SEGALL: Do you what the -- speaking and getting in front of them. Do you know what they are? Do you have any idea?

ZUCKERBERG: I mean, yes. And I think we have some sense of the different things that we need to get in front of.

SEGALL: Are you specifically seeing bad actors trying to meddle with the U.S. election now?

ZUCKERBERG: Um, I'm not 100 percent sure what that means because it's not -- I think the candidates aren't all --

SEGALL: Are you seeing something new or interesting?

ZUCKERBERG: What we see are a lot of folks trying to sow division. Right, so that was a major tactic that we saw Russia try to use in the 2016 election. Actually most of what they did was not directly, as far as we can tell from the data that we've seen. It was not directly about the election but was more about just dividing people.

And, you know, so they run a group on, you know, for pro-immigration reform, and then they'd run another group against immigration reform and just try to pit people against each other. And a lot of this was done with fake accounts that we can do a better job of tracing and using A.I. tools to be able to scan and observe a lot of what is going on. And I'm confident that we're going to do a much better job.

SEGALL: Lawmakers in the United States and the U.K. are asking you to testify. Everybody wants you to show up. Will you testify before Congress?

ZUCKERBERG: So the short answer is, is I'm happy to if it's the right thing to do. You know, Facebook testifies in Congress regularly on a number of topics, some high-profile, and some not. And our objective is always to provide Congress of this extremely important job, to have the most information that they can.

We see a small slice of activity on Facebook, but Congress gets to, you know, have access to the information across Facebook and all other companies and the intelligence community and everything. So what we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge about what Congress is trying to learn. So if that's me, then I am happy to go. What I think we found so far is that typically there are people whose whole job is focused on an area. But I would imagine at some point that there will be a topic where I am the sole authority on, and it will make sense for me to do it. And I'd be happy to do it at that point.

SEGALL: Although, you are the brand of Facebook. You are the name of Facebook. People want to hear from you.

ZUCKERBERG: That's why I'm doing this interview. But, you know, I think there is -- the question in a question of Congressional testimony is what is the goal, right? And that's not a media opportunity, right, or at least it's not supposed to be. The goal there, I think, is to get Congress all of the information that they need to do their extremely important job, and we just want to make sure that we send whoever is best informed at doing that.

I agree separately that there's an element of accountability where I should be out there doing more interviews. And, you know, as uncomfortable as it is for me to do, you know, a TV interview, I feel this is an important thing that as a discipline for what we're doing, I should be out there and being asked hard questions by journalists.

SEGALL: Knowing what you know now, do you believe Facebook impacted the results of the 2016 election?

ZUCKERBERG: Oh, that's -- that is hard. You know, I think that it is -- it's really hard for me to have a full assessment of that. You know, the reality is --


ZUCKERBERG: Well, there were so many different forces at play. The organic posting that people did, the get out the vote campaigns that we ran, the pages that both candidates ran, the advertising that they did, I'm sure that all of that activity had some impact. It's hard for me to assess how much that stacked up compared to all the campaign events and advertising that was done off of Facebook and all the other efforts. And I think it's also hard to fully assess the impact of that organic activity, which we're actually quite proud of.

SEGALL: Also the bad actors too.

ZUCKERBERG: And the bad stuff. That's what I'm saying, yes. So I think it's hard to fully assess --

SEGALL: Given the stakes here, why shouldn't Facebook be regulated?

ZUCKERBERG: I actually am not sure we shouldn't be regulated. You know, I think in general, technology is an increasingly important trend in the world, and I actually think the question is more what is the right regulation rather than yes or no, should it be regulated?

SEGALL: What is the right regulation?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, there's some basic things that I think that there are some big intellectual debates. On the basic side, you know, there were things like ad transparency regulation that I would love to see. Right, if you look at how much regulation there is around advertising on TV, and print, you know, it's just not clear why there should be less on the internet, right? You should have the same level of transparency required. And I don't know if a bill is going to pass. I know a couple of senators are working really hard on this. But we're committed and we've actually already started rolling out ad transparency tools that accomplish most of the things that are in the bills that people are talking about today. Because we just think that this is an important thing. People should know who is buying the ads they see on Facebook, and you should be able to go to any page and see all the ads that people are running to different audiences.

[21:25:13] SEGALL: How has being a father changed your commitment to users, changed your commitment to their future and what a kinder Facebook looks like?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, I think having kids changes a lot.

SEGALL: Like what?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, you know, I used to think that the most important thing to me by far was, you know, my having the greatest positive impact across the world that I can. And now, you know, I really just care about building something that my girls are going to grow up and be proud of me for. And I mean that's what is kind of my guiding philosophy at this point is, you know, when I come and work on a lot of hard things during the day and come home and just ask, will my girls be proud of what I did today.


COOPER: Back now with Laurie Segall, Brian Stelter and Matthew Rosenberg.

Brian, do you think he has done enough in terms of -- I mean, again, he doesn't give a lot of interviews. He's clearly concerned about this enough to suddenly put himself out there. Has he done enough to quell the criticism?

STELTER: The short answer is no. The longer answer is this is a very positive step. You're right. He hates doing these interviews. He's not very good at them. He'd rather be spending the day with his engineers. But Mark Zuckerberg at this point is a world leader. He controls one of the most important companies on the planet, which has the power to shape campaigns and elections and wars. And so it is absolutely imperative. This is a process. This is part of an ongoing conversation.

If he just stops today and stops talking, then, no, this is not enough. But if this is part of an ongoing conversation, that's important. I think two headlines right here. Number one, he's willing to testify. He has never testified before a Congressional committee even though, again, one of the most powerful men in the world. So he's willing to testify although he added a little wiggle room. And he also said he's open to conversation about regulations. It's not whether there should be regulation it's what kind there should be. So I think that was an important step.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Laurie, he did say regarding testifying that if he was the only -- if it was a subject that he was the only person who was an expert on or, you know, the single expert, he would be happy to testify. I think that was basically his message.

SEGALL: Yes. You know, at first he did say, well, it's got to be the right person. And I think, look, I think there was a lot of pressure for tech CEOs to show up and testify when we saw what happened with the election and Russian influence. People wanted to see the CEOs of these tech companies who have put us through a lot of intended consequences that we did not envision. They wanted to see them show up and talk.

And you know, I think it is hopeful that he said at some point he could potentially do this for the right thing. And not to make a joke, but I will say I think another headline, he is known for being incredibly robotic 2and he got a little emotional there at the end talking about the impact on his children, which you don't normally see. I will say, you don't normally see Mark Zuckerberg get emotional when it comes to these types of things. So to say what you will, there is a lot of pressure on him, and people need Mark Zuckerberg to step up.

He is now one of the most powerful people in the world. This is a platform that has two billion users that can influence elections. We've seen so much in the last year where having covered tech for many of these years, you want our tech leaders to grow up, to have children, to want to build a better wold for those children, and want to protect us. And I think this is a step. I think Brian is right. This is a step. But we need more transparency. Transparency is the buzzword behind closed doors at Facebook. We're going to need to see them put their money where their mouth is. This is a good step, Anderson.

COOPER: Matthew, something I found interesting was his response to selling the data to third parties, that Facebook he says doesn't do that. Is that exactly true? They do micro target, they do collect data of what users share, and my understanding I mean, they sell that to advertisers. Isn't that selling to a third party, or are they just considered the advertiser their customer?

ROSENBERG: So I think they probably qualify that and saying we're not giving them the data. We're telling them -- they say they want to market to this group, so we tell them this is how you do it or we serve them up the users, but we keep the data to our self.

But, yes, it's a fine line there. I have a question. Zuckerberg is there talking about moving forward, you know, new chapter, all this stuff. I've got a question for him, which is the whistle-blower in this case, the guy who came forward, kind of exposed this all to us and to our partner at the observer was a guy named Christopher Wylie, a young data scientist for did help harvest this data for Cambridge Analytica. His reward for coming forward, going out on the record, potentially facing legal issues for all this, has been to be suspended by Facebook and treated like a suspect in this. And I am kind of curious if in this new era of openness and transparency, why they're kind of treating the whistle-blower here like one of the criminals?

COOPER: That's a good question. Matthew, thank you, all of you, I appreciate it, Laurie Segall as well, Brian Stelter.

[21:29:58] Up next, President Trump defending his congrats call to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, raising more questions ahead.


COOPER: President Trump is defending his latest praise of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Here's his explanation on Twitter. "A called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory, in past, Obama called him also. The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia and others is a good thing, not a bad thing."

The President went on to say, "They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race. Bush tried to get along, but didn't have the 'smarts.' Obama and Clinton tried, but didn't have the energy or chemistry. Remember Reset. Peace Through Strength."

That is raising some more questions. The last hour, I talked about this with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Here's some of what he said.


JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that this has been a mystery about why -- and I'm speaking of the President personally here -- why the singular almost aggressive indifference to the threat that Putin represents, who is bent on undermining this country and undermining our very political fabric. What's required here, particularly with respect to this information warfare campaign that the Russians are waging against us right now very aggressively is leadership, and that leadership can only come from the President.


[21:35:17] COOPER: A lot to discuss with our panel. Joining us is Jackie Kucinich, Michael Caputo, Jennifer Granholm, Steve Cortes, and Paul Begala. Michael, yesterday, you were very -- I don't know if upset is the right word, but concerned about the leak of what was on the President's briefing sheet. Obviously the White House is concerned about that. Does that concern you more than the tone the President took of Vladimir Putin, or does that tone not concern you at all?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: The tone he took doesn't concern me. And full disclosure, I had Russian dressing on a little across the street before I came in.

COOPER: You said, you've been so transparent?



CAPUTO: But I really am concerned about the leaks because this is a criminal activity, and I'm actually very disappointed today to know that nobody did anything about it. Maybe they are, but I think somebody should have been marched out of the White House today because a very small number of people that had access to those cards and had knowledge of what was on them. And it should be fairly easy to figure out who those people are. I think somebody needs to be marched out in cuffs.

COOPER: Governor Granholm, is this a story about leaks or a story about why is the President not tougher on Vladimir Putin?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I agree with Four Star General Barry McCaffrey who said, and I'm quoting him from today, "I am grateful to the leakers. We all need to know the President defends democracy every day, and if he can't do that, we need to know it." The fact that he cannot bring himself to stand up to Putin is amazing because in 2014, which is weird, in an interview at the "today" show, this is what Donald Trump said about Obama. He slams Obama for not taking a harder line with Putin, saying, "We should definitely do sanctions, and we have to show some strength." I mean Putin has eaten Obama's lunch, and therefore our lunch for a long period of time. If he could say that in 2014 when he's not President, why can't he say it in 2018?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, because, Jennifer, I think more important than what he says on a phone call is what he does. And what has he done with Russia? First of all, we lobbed dozens of American cruise missiles into Syria into a base where there were Russian jets, or an active aggression against Russia. Secondly we've armed the Ukraine. Thirdly, slapped sanctions on Russia, and then fourthly --

KUCINICH: Under pressure.


CORTES: Hold on. Also went to Warsaw and gave a speech that was as antagonistic to Russia as anything I've heard since the cold war. So judging him on one phone call, I think, is utterly -- GRANHOLM: It's more than one phone call Steve. You know that. It is

a series of statements he has failed to make.

CORTES: Anderson, you had Director Clapper on talking earlier. The fact that he wants to get on his moral high horse and lecture this President, he lied under oath to the American people and said the NSA was not spying on us when they were. So his arrogance to me is appalling. He has no standing. He has no right to lecture this President or anyone for that matter regarding ethics and national security.

COOPER: Jackie Kucinich?

KUCINICH: I'm inclined to agree with you that we need to judge the President on his actions. But when it comes to the sanctions that you mentioned, the White House actively lobbied Congress to not make them as strict as they ended up being. You know, there's a whole litany of things when it comes to Vladimir Putin that the President has done and said that raise your eyebrows. And so I agree with you, but I think for different reasons.

COOPER: But I mean Paul, you know, Donald Trump is no shrinking violet in terms of being critical of people, giving nicknames to people. Vladimir Putin doesn't have a nickname. There has not really been anything critical that he has said out loud about Vladimir Putin.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. And it's -- there's no longer a plausible, innocent explanation, right? He sure is acting like a guy who Putin's got something on. This is -- he's on the phone with Mr. Putin, and whether or not he congratulates him on the election is the least of my concerns. As he's speaking to Putin, Putin is attacking the United States. He's attacking our elections. He's attacking our electrical grid. He's attacking the criminal infrastructure, our aviation system, our nuclear energy. This is all according to the Trump administration. And he doesn't raise any of that with him.

Meanwhile, Putin is attacking our allies in Great Britain using chemical weapons on the British mainland, and our President says nothing. It's not enough that he sucks up but he won't stand up. He attacks the pope for god's sakes, Steve.

CORTES: Listen, as a loyal catholic --

BEGALA: I am too. I'm a faithful catholic. I don't like him attacking the Holy Father.


CORTES: Let's get here. Why isn't he? Are you saying, as John Brennan said, by the way, another disgraced, in my opinion, former security figure --


CORTES: John Brennan had to apologize to the United States Senate for his --

GRANHOLM: We're not talking about John Brennan right now.

CORTES: -- agency hacking the Senate intelligence for the legislation. OK, so these are disgraced --

[21:40:00] BEGALA: I'll take patriotism of career national security servants over Donald Trump, my President, any day.

CORTES: OK. Let's answer this question, please. Let's cut to the chase. Why is he in Putin's pocket? Is that what it is?

BEGALA: I'm asking that question --

KUCINICH: What has he gotten from being nice to Putin? What has happened because --

CORTES: Sending cruise missiles into Syria --

CAPUTO: Killing 300 Russians with American prior powers.


COOPER: But sending cruise missiles onto that -- I mean, that was an like an airstrip that was up and running --

CAPUTO: American fighters, killed up to 300 Russian mercenaries.

COOPER: That's a fair point.

KUCINICH: Right. No, but what I'm saying is his tone, he said it in his tweet.

COOPER: I mean, he did say repeatedly --

CORTES: -- around it, tell me. Is he in their pocket?


GRANHOLM: Isn't the whole point that Mueller's investigation -- listen, listen. Wait a second.

COOPER: Didn't the election continually talk about the need to name your enemy when it was radical Islam. I mean, that was one of the biggest points and arguably an effective point he made against President Obama. You've got to say radical Islam. You've got to name your enemy. He's not naming the enemy, is he?

CAPUTO: There's not been one President, I think in modern times, that has not entered into their administration with hopes of having a good relationship with Russia, starting with Bill Clinton, you know. Barack Obama. You know, each -- George Bush, for god sakes --

COOPER: You think he's still in that period.

CAPUTO: I think he's definitely in that period, and it behooves us to explore positive relationships with Russia. But the problem is we're always disappointed. And I think that we're going to be disappointed this time as well.

GRANHOLM: He attacked our country.

CAPUTO: Mm-hmm. No doubt.

GRANHOLM: So how long does this playing footsie, how long does this have to last? He looks utterly subservient to Putin. He looks like he has got him under --


GRANHOLM: Well, that's what I think is going to come out with Robert Mueller. I mean we've seen a whole bunch of theories, right?

CORTES: I just want to hear somebody said that Donald Trump --

GRANHOLM: He got business dealings.

CORTES: Because I'm going to laugh out loud.

BEGALA: I want to know a plausible innocent explanation.

GRANHOLM: I think Putin has some compromise on him that he doesn't want to release.

CAPUTO: He wants to have positive relationships with Russia.

CORTES: You're saying he's compromised.

BEGALA: He doesn't want to have one with Britain, Canada, or Mexico or NATO, or the pope.

GRANHOLM: Well, I don't know fairly disagree.


CORTES: Well they --

GRANHOLM: OK but all of this stuff has come out since he --

CORTES: No, no, no. The Russian tale was clear in 2016.

GRANHOLM: Not the dossier. Not the dossier.

CORTES: Are you telling me the dossier has credibility?

GRANHOLM: Yes, I am. I'm telling you parts of it too.

CORTES: You are?

GRANHOLM: Of course.

CORTES: You're telling me the pee tape or whatever the heck it is, has credibility? GRANHOLM: Listen. That is exactly what Mueller is looking at, one of the things. So we'll find out. Why are we arguing about this when Mueller is going to come out with the answer? But you can't sit there and say, Russia has nothing on him when all of this series of facts, which makes many people believe that --

CORTES: I'm saying Russia has nothing on him.

GRANHOLM: -- that Putin has --

CAPUTO: By the way, and if they do he should --

COOPER: All right.

GRANHOLM: How do you know? I mean, really?

CAPUTO: Because there's been no proof at all that there is anything.

GRANHOLM: Okay. Well --

CAPUTO: If you're going to assume that Donald Trump is in Vladimir Putin's pocket, I can't help you.

CORTES: Right, if we --

GRANHOLM: I don't want you to help me, believe me.



KUCINICH: So why hasn't the President directed DHS and some of those other officials that are in charge of making sure this election, 2018, which is right around the corner, that they're protected, that they're actively doing things. They testified in front of Congress and said there was no real directive yet. Why is that?

COOPER: That is what a number of, you know, career civil servants and others who have served in the national security apparatus say is that, yes, individual agencies are doing it. The FBI is trying. Homeland security is, but it hasn't been directed, overseen by the President, and it needs the leadership of the President.

CAPUTO: But this is an American problem, not a Trump problem. This started in the Obama administration --

COOPER: Right, but Trump is President now. Why not --


CAPUTO: I understand that. But I believe something must be done. I believed that since July when the DNC e-mails came out. I believe he will do something, but it's been an American problem for several years, and it's continuing.

COOPER: More now with the panel -- we're going to have more ahead. Another warning, the President was told it was a bad idea to try to make White House staff sign nondisclosure agreements. He apparently has gone ahead and done that according to a source. We'll talk about that next.


[21:48:08] COOPER: It's an idea the President had soon after he was elected and just wouldn't give up on. He wanted to demand that White House staff sign nondisclosure agreements. He was advised against it according to a source but then a year ago White House Counsel, Don McGahn, drafted what's been described to CNN as a watered down unenforceable version of an NDA. "The Washington Post" first reported this Sunday. The White House called it completely false.

Back now with the panel. Is this -- I mean, this is -- it's obviously for Donald Trump in the corporate world, an NDA was something that he used a lot. But in a White House, I don't -- I haven't heard of that being done before.

KUCINICH: Daily beast did a piece about this right after the election, and asked around to experts. They say it wasn't. That this is unprecedented, that no other President has tried to do this because when it comes to leaks, federal employees are already required to keep certain things quiet or certain things classified and if you don't, you're in big trouble.

COOPER: But federal employees also have certain protections.

KUCINICH: They do. And that's the other thing. But they also have certain protections. And if you get fired, you can go and talk smack about your boss. That's the first amendment. So some of the things while this contract reportedly is a lot like the things that he had in Trump Tower, they're largely unenforceable and it sounds like Don McGahn knows that.

COOPER: Is it a smart idea, Michael?

CAPUTO: Well, I don't know. It's something the President wants to do. He's always done it in Trump Tower, and I think that he believes it gives him a little more confidence in his people, that they won't dish on him personally. If it's not enforceable, I don't think there's much to it. But in my mind, if the President wants to do that to gain more confidence in his staff in a place where they're leaking like a sieve, I think it's fine.

COOPER: What does it say -- I mean, Paul, is this unusual the amount of leaks coming out of this White House?

BEGALA: Yes. Every White House leaks --

COOPER: And what does that said?

BEGALA: What drove me crazy when I was a White House aide, I hated it. I still hate it. It is a sign of deep disloyalty. The President hasn't inspired sufficient loyalty in most senior team. I don't think an NDA inspires that that kind of -- in fact, I think leadership, by which I mean, he should stop leaking. He's the leaker in chief.

[21:50:11] You want to know what's going on in President Trump's mind, is at least a 100 people outside of the government who he calls regularly. I know some of them. I talked to them. And I don't to President but I talk to people who just got a call from him. And he begins by asking them their advice. Do you think I should fire John Kelly? You know, what did you think of Sarah's briefing today. So he's the biggest leaker, but then the staff sees that, and they think, well if the boss is leaking, I can leak.

COOPER: It's interesting though, because he has gone after reporters saying, they don't have any sources, it's all fake sources, which is I mean -- I guess one wants to believe that the people you're talking to are not then talking to other people, I assume that they are.

CAPUTO: I can tell you, the people that I know that talked with the President regularly would never ever share any of their information. They're careful to do that, because they want to get more phone calls. And I think if you're smart, you don't dish on it. I think some of the sources are people he talks to on the telephone. But to say that the President of the United States can't call people that he knows, trusts and admires to talk to them about policy I think is --

COOPER: I feel bad for everything who's surrounded by people who are then just leaking out information. I mean, I think whether it's that person's fault because they're not a good boss or whatever it is. But I just -- you know?

CORTES: But this might be a very important distinction. The people leaking may very well be career people, not political appointees, and that's very important distinction. So these could be Washington establishment types within the national security apparatus, who have access to this information, who are opposing the President for the very reasons that we elected him for, right, was to destroy that very swamp.

KUCINICH: But those people aren't in the inner circle. What I know is some of this information that's out, I mean, I think that's a way to say -- like another way of saying deep state but --

CORTES: No. Well, and I'll say deem state. I don't have no way to say --

CAPUTO: Deep state.

CORTES: Yes. I'll say it. There is a deep state. It's real, it is. But having said that, look, nondisclosures are ill-advised, and I might shock you Anderson and maybe a lot of the viewers, but I disagree with the President on this.



CORTES: Yes. This is a bad idea, this is not his corporation. This is not his company. This is the taxpayer's -- nondisclosures are a bad idea. But having said that too, I think the fact that he reaches out to a lot of people outside of the administration and I'm honored to be one of them, the fact that he reaches out to private citizens, I think is a strength of this administration, one of the reasons that we elected a businessman, the first entrepreneur President in American history, very different, very unorthodox, clearly has upset the swamp in a myriad of ways as we see, but I think also in positive ways, for instance, tax cuts and deregulation, what's going on in this country outside of the swamp, outside of the beltway, which is growth and optimism and security.

CAPUTO: By these calls, he's always done this.

COOPER: Right, throughout his career. But do most Presidents do that? I mean, you know, do most Presidents have a cabinet of 50 people, old friends or whatever whom they call, I don't know how many of the President actually have. But --

BEGALA: President Clinton had the FOB, Friends of Bill, and he had hundreds, some of them leaked.

COOPER: He would want to keep in touch with people to kind of have a sense of what's happening outside.

BEGALA: Absolutely. President Obama much less.


BEGALA: You know, President Reagan would talk to his old friend in Hollywood, not even the government or political friends that they had. He talked to Lou Wasserman, who had been his agent, a legendary guy in Hollywood.

So they each have different. And President Obama was much more buttoned up, frankly his White House leaked less than any I've ever seen before. But that is -- I'm sure it's not you Steve, it's an easy way to find out what's on the President's mind, or you can ask John Baron or John Miller the alter egos he created so he himself could leak. That's crazy.

COOPER: Well, frankly, you can watch his Twitter and see what's going on. I mean, never in history has a President been --

CAPUTO: So transparent.

COOPER: So transparent.


COOPER: I mean, whether it's good wise or not, it's like a realtime Rorschach test.

GRANHOLM: He should be signing his own nondisclosure agreement.

CORTES: Somehow I knew that was coming.

BEGALA: He should tweet it out. COOPER: But these are not. I mean, these are not -- according to the reporting, these are not enforceable?


COOPER: All right. Thanks everybody, I appreciate it. We'll going to be right back with more news ahead.


[21:58:10] COOPER: More breaking news tonight. The police chief in Austin, Texas says they have a video confession from the serial bomber that was recorded as the SWAT team closed in on the suspect.


CHIEF BRIAN MANLEY, AUSTIN POLICE: At this point. Locates a recording that the suspect in this incident made, it is about 25 minute recording where he talks about what he has done. I would classify this as a confession.

On this recording, the suspect describes the six bombs that he constructed with a level of specificity that he identified the differences among those six bombs.


COOPER: Well, according to the police chief, the bomber explains how he built each device, but he doesn't reveal why he targeted his victims, his motive in other words. H also didn't reference any terror groups.

Authority say, 23 year old, Mark Anthony Conditt killed himself as police surrounded his car by blowing up one of his devices. Federal agents are trying to determine if he acted alone or if any other bombs remain. Obviously that's a huge concern for them. The suspect is linked to five pipe bomb explosions that left two people dead and wounded four others over three weeks. A sixth device found as you may know, did not detonate, that was one at the FedEx facility.

The suspect's family says they are devastated they don't understand how their family could be involved in, "such an awful way."

Also, before we go tonight, I want to give you a quick programming note. Be sure to tune in tomorrow night. My exclusive interview with former playboy model Karen McDougal, she is suing the company that owns the National Enquirer, which bought the rights to her story, according to her attorney. So it could kill the story to protect the President. That's according a lawsuit.

The publisher of the Enquirer's parent company is David Pecker, a long time friend of President Trump. That's all for us. Thanks for watching, time to land it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts right now.